06/01/11 10:35pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: JUST CHECKING “As a member of the board of the College Park Cemetery Association and ‘head volunteer’ for the cemetery the past few years, I felt comfortable opening the new coffin at College Park on a visit yesterday. Unfortunately my hopes for a large cash donation towards the cemetery’s restoration were dashed when I found the box was empty.” [Randy Riepe, commenting on Caught on Camera: Mysterious Coffin, Out and About in North Montrose Cemetery; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Courtney Zubowski, KHOU 11 News

05/25/11 4:48pm

“What’s that photo — a coffin?” Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ve got a casket problem in your neighborhood, you know now that reporting it to Swamplot will get you results. Yes, just minutes after Swamplot posted photos of the mysterious burial chamber that a reader found tanning itself on the grounds of the College Memorial Park Cemetery on West Dallas St., intrepid KHOU 11 News reporter Courtney Zubowski was live on the scene, ready to investigate. Of course, if you’re with a TV news team it certainly helps to have someone else — with maybe some eye protection — on hand to do any heavy, uh, coffin prying that might be necessary. (That’s KHOU photographer Gregg Ramirez hard on the case in Zubowski’s photo, above). You know, just in case something pops up unexpectedly.


05/25/11 2:10pm

As promised, Swamplot’s original tipster sends in photos of the freelance coffin first spotted last night at the College Memorial Park Cemetery on West Dallas St. in North Montrose, a couple blocks northeast of the River Oaks Shopping Center. It’s likely been some time since this cemetery has seen a new burial. And yet — hello there! These photos are from this morning:


05/25/11 8:23am

There’s no word — or any photos — back yet this morning from the tipster who reported spotting a coffin sitting out on the grounds of the normally dead-quiet College Memorial Park Cemetery on West Dallas near Gross St. late last afternoon. Is that . . . good news or bad news? In the meantime, a 10-point follow-up report has come in from another reader who wandered into the scene, camera in hand, as night fell — you know, just to check it out:

1) walked by late like 8:30
2) could only see 1/3rd the way in
3) couldn’t see a coffin
4) instead saw a light coming from in there (see photo [above] in middle on ground)
5) no fing way I’m going in there to check that out
6) see HPD hanging outside Juvie across the street
7) we check it out together (not that guns/tasers would help with zombies)



05/24/11 7:03pm

ARE WE TALKIN’ NEW COFFIN — OR USED COFFIN? “I don’t want to panic anyone,” reports a longtime Swamplot reader and tipster who frequents the area by West Dallas and Gross St. “But there’s a coffin perched atop the ground over at College Memorial Park Cemetery. I was going to take a photo but I was too skeered. I suddenly turned into a terrified sixth grader at the sight of it.” What??? No photo? Our correspondent promises to send someone braver over with a camera — but “before it gets dark.” [Swamplot inbox; previously on Swamplot]

02/22/11 1:25pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT YOU MISSED AT THE GREAT FORBIDDEN GARDENS ONE-THIRD-SCALE QIN DYNASTY SELL-OFF “I was there on Sunday, came home w/ 2 soldiers, 1 horse and 3 small figurines. The soldiers are FANTASTIC and I wish I had bought more, but for 100 ea it was a little steep to get a whole army of them. I have a bit of buyer’s remorse about the horse, b/c its in pretty bad shape, and is not long for the world. But it was only 25$. There were many people there, but it was by no means crowded, took 45 minutes to get in the gates. The woman who rang me up, told me that a salvager was going to come by on Monday (yesterday) so I imagine the remaining men who were [intact] (there were still 100s left at noon on Sunday) will start turning up in thrift shops around. What else? I am glad I got to see the gardens one time before it was destroyed. It was a lovely ground and I wish I had known about it. (I sort of knew about it, but never went.) Apparently they were going to sell all the cherry trees as well, so they may still be on the market.” [anon, commenting on The 6,000 Garden Gnomes of Emperor Qin: Let the Great Houston Grave Ransacking Begin] Photo: Candace Garcia

02/18/11 8:40pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: LOST TOMB OF THE GRAND PARKWAY “The bulldozed-over ones will make for some serious headscratching in the 23rd century when they are dug up and ‘discovered.’ Maybe the Asiatic Proconsul will use it as propaganda/proof [that] Global Manifest Destiny was already in the making in the early 21st century.” [SL, commenting on The 6,000 Garden Gnomes of Emperor Qin: Let the Great Houston Grave Ransacking Begin]

02/18/11 1:52pm

This weekend, while New York crowds flock to a recently opened exhibit of Forbidden City treasures belonging to China’s last emperor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Houstonians will have a chance for a much more satisfying and interactive experience with the wonders of the ancients: Crowds here will be swarming to plunder a replica of the massive gravesite of China’s first emperor. It has come to this: Forbidden Gardens, the garden-free (and yes, until now open-to-the-public) little 60-acre museum and cultural center on the Katy prairie has found no buyer willing to purchase intact its collection of 6,000 one-third-scale terracotta soldiers from the 2,200-year-old Xi’an tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di, its one-twentieth scale model of Beijing’s Forbidden City, or its many other handcrafted and made-in-China models of historic Chinese treasures. So everything in the museum will be sold off piece by piece, in one giant 2-day artificial-grave-side blowout liquidation sale.

“CASH ONLY!! ALL SALES ARE FINAL!!” screams a notice posted to the ordinarily staid museum’s website:


05/18/10 3:43pm

An organization that won guardianship of Olivewood Cemetery about a year and a half ago is trying to raise funds to hire an archeological firm to recover and rebury the longtime residents of up to 5 graves — before they’re washed away into White Oak Bayou. The cemetery sits on the boundary line between the First and Sixth Wards, hidden behind Grocers Supply and Party Boy on Studewood, just south of I-10.

Recently, the erosion appears to have picked up, leaving the potential for dozens of graves to wash away. In addition to the ravine system, the cemetery’s woes stem from runoff from nearby Grocers Supply and a downward, south-to-north slope that ferries water through the cemetery. [Community Archaeology Research Institute associate director Robert] Marcom said one goal is to channel water to nearby White Oak Bayou without having to go through the ravine system.

Olivewood became Houston’s first incorporated African-American cemetery in 1875. The grounds are a bit tough to get to, and many of the remaining headstones in the long-neglected property are nestled deep in lush beds of vegetation, reportedly including plenty of poison oak and poison ivy. Descendants of Olivewood regularly organizes cleanups of the 8-acre cemetery, but only the front quarter has been tamed so far.

Like apple pie, July 4th, and auditing the Federal Reserve, Olivewood appears to be one of those rare causes that attracts the involvement of both major political parties. Here’s our evidence:


07/20/09 4:43pm

Remember back in ’83, when that couple that had bought a new home in Crosby’s Newport subdivision came across a couple of graves from what appeared to be an old slave cemetery as they dug a new swimming pool in their backyard? Okay, how about that Patty Duke TV movie they made out of the story? Remember that?

Well, it looks like those ghosts are . . . still hanging around!

Just look at all the orbs that show up in these photos by a newly minted actual probationary Houston firefighter! Blogger Marissa in Houston recently joined a few fire-station buddies for a little nighttime ghosthunting adventure around Poppets Way:

We found a church that seemed to have no one there and butted up right against that creepy forest. We drove back and right up to the wooded area. This time, I did NOT get out of the car. I couldn’t. I felt so much around me just sitting in the seat that there was no way I could even fathom of being out there. As I sat there and snapped pictures from my Jeep fortress, I kept watching the three others out in front of the car. Once, I saw a pair of legs standing next to the guy on the end. Just the legs, nothing else. Another time, I was looking at something that Mitchell had on the laptop screen ( he was sitting in the front passenger seat and I was leaning through the middle), and the illuminated shadow of someone walking in front of the drivers side head light caught my eye. I thought it was one of our people and turned to say something, but there was no one there. I vividly remember the motion of someone walking and the shape of a person. It was undeniable to me.

Creepy! What else is going on in the neighborhood?


05/15/09 4:52pm

Okay, whichever of you folks has been doing that weird secret ceremony thing with the chicken and the bone and all down at the cemetery at West Dallas and Gross St.? Well, the gig is up! Swamplot is on to you! Or . . . at least a couple of camera-wielding readers are:

College Park Memorial Cemetery on W. Dallas (where Jack Yates among others is buried) is getting cleaned up and cleaned out, the better to walk the dog through. Interestingly enough, it may be getting used for other purposes as well. We have seen two dead chickens – having never seen any live ones there, and just yesterday, after discovering the second chicken, we also found a tableau of objects at the base of a hollow tree – a large, LARGE bone (about 15 in long), conch and scallop shell, nicely arranged, and a dead bird, stretched out to show his skeleton.

Hmmm . . . could this have anything to do with that 28-story Regent Square condo tower that’s slated to go up next door?

Parade of shocking, non-vegetarian-friendly photographic evidence follows:


12/01/08 1:22pm

Conspicuously absent from the MLS listing for 834 W. 24th St. in the Heights: any mention (or photos) of the Scar Room, a small chamber of sculptures and small wood panels on which house owner and artist Dolan Smith and sympathetic visitors graphically documented their physical and psychological afflictions. Sample Scar Room decor: “a submerged doll with a piece of rubber hose wrapped around its neck, representing the umbilical cord that nearly strangled Smith at birth.”

But it isn’t too hard to find exacting descriptions of the home online. The Houston Press, for example, featured this bit of color as it celebrated the home’s come-from-behind win of the paper’s “Best Shrine to the Abnormal” award back in 2002:

Donations of every imaginable variety show up weekly: horns, doll heads, a film canister of Tommy Lee Jones’s spit, balls of Saran Wrap, clumps of hair, an appendix, color photos of fallopian tubes and contemporary art of a disquieting nature. Artist/nutball Dolan Smith has turned his Heights bungalow into a mecca for all things weird. . . .

Smith is supplementing his empire of the bizarre with a two-thirds-complete pet cemetery. Last year, Tropical Storm Allison took its toll on the nascent final resting place for pets. Rising floodwaters filled the jars of 32 dead rats, inadvertently creating biological pipe bombs.

Sure, you’re thinking . . . Who’s gonna buy this place?

No problem. Realtor Weldon Rigby, himself no stranger to homes graced by an occasional mannequin, has already done himself proud. After just a month and a half on the market, the home — listed for $150,000 — went “option pending” on November 14th.


08/28/08 5:49pm

GRAVE CONCERNS FOR REGENT SQUARE The College Memorial Park Cemetery once stretched across the entire block bounded by Dunlavy, W. Clay, Gross, and W. Dallas. Portions of the Allen House Apartments were built on former cemetery land that was sold in the 1960s. So what will the developers of Regent Square do? “In a statement, the company vice president said his group has created a site excavation action plan which includes continual archeological monitoring. So far, there is no documentation showing that the graves exist, but all parties agree that remains need to be preserved. The biggest goal is to restore the entire cemetery to what it use to be.” [11 News]